The Big Ten had a loaded slate on Friday night, including two matchups against Power Five opponents. Northwestern’s game against Oklahoma highlighted things, but Penn State had an intriguing matchup against Alabama as well.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Day:
-Oklahoma Sooners 76, Northwestern Wildcats 69 (OT)
Without a doubt, Northwestern’s matchup against Oklahoma was the game of the night. It was close throughout and went into overtime after Ryan Taylor missed a three that would have likely given the Wildcats the win. Unfortunately, Northwestern didn’t have enough in overtime to hold off the Sooners.
The two stars for Northwestern in this one were Vic Law and Dererk Pardon. They combined for 38 points and Pardon was the key piece offensively. The Wildcats consistently relied on him to initiate the offense and feed shooters outside. It was an impressive performance for the big man, despite the loss.
This is the type of game that is going to haunt Wildcat fans moving forward. The Sooners aren’t a bad team. In fact, Oklahoma was 26th on KenPom coming into this game now sits at 11-1 overall. As such, it’s hard to complain too much about Northwestern falling short in overtime against a team like that.
However, the opportunity was there. Northwestern was in position to grab a win at several points down the stretch and simply couldn’t finish things off. This is the third time that Northwestern’s been in position to get a marquee win and came up short. That’s a trend that needs to end if the Wildcats are going to be relevant in March.
Fans will hope that Northwestern can figure it out on the 30th at home against Columbia.
-No. 10 Michigan State Spartans 99, Oakland Golden Grizzlies 69
There isn’t too much to take away from this one. Michigan State played a pretty bad Oakland team at home on Friday night and cruised to an easy win. Cassius Winston led the Spartans with 26 points and three assists. The Grizzlies are now 4-9 overall and have yet to beat a team in the top 230 on KenPom.
Michigan State will return to action on the 29th at home against Northern Illinois. Expect more of the same in that game.
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 86, North Carolina A&T Aggies 67
Although this one looked like a mismatch on paper, North Carolina A&T kept it close for far longer than Gopher fans would have liked to see. In fact, Minnesota actually trailed for a decent section of the opening half.
Nonetheless, Minnesota took control and Jordan Murphy came up big with 30 points. The Gophers now sit at 10-2 overall and have won four in a row. The team will return to action on the 30th at home against Mount St. Mary’s.
-Alabama Crimson Tide 73, Penn State Nittany Lions 64
After going on the road and beating Duquesne on Wednesday, fans were hoping that Penn State could follow it up with another win on Friday night. However, that wouldn’t be the case as Penn State fall on the road against the Crimson Tide. The loss dropped the Nittany Lions to 6-6 overall and 1-2 in the team’s last three games.
This wasn’t an incredibly surprising result, but it’s still a significant one nonetheless. Penn State will now enter the restart of conference play with a thoroughly underwhelming resume littered with missed opportunities. The Nittany Lions are 6-6 and went 3-5 against teams in the top 150 on KenPom. Not an encouraging sign with 18 games against Big Ten opponents coming up.
Penn State will get back into action against UMBC at home on the 29th.